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$30 Gobo Arm: Mobile Document Camera Stand 

Make] Projects 

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build, hack, tweak, share, discover,- 

$30 Gobo Arm: Mobile 

Document Camera Stand 

Written By: Adam Flaherty 


File (1) 

for cleaning up cut rod 

Hacksaw (1) 
Screwdriver (1) 


Threaded rods (3) 

All part numbers are McMaster-Carr 

( MC: #98790 A320. 


Setscrew terminal lugs (4) 
MC: #6923K62. $2.04/ ea 

Spacer (2) 

MC: #94729A250. $0.68/ea 

Wing nuts (2) 

MC: #92001 A321. $0.33/ea 

Aluminum tubing (2) 

MC: #89965K253. $8.81/36" length 

Clamping knob (2) 
MC:#57715K78. $1.70/ea 

Lock washer (2) 

MC: #91 1 13A029. $2.92/100 pack 

Coupling nut (1) 

© Make Projects 

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$30 Gobo Arm: Mobile Document Camera Stand 

MC: #90264A435. $0. 19/ea 

Beam clamp (1) 

C-clamp (1) 
around $3.00 

Smartphone camera adaptor (1) 

Check eBay or (for the fancy 

i Phone 4 model). 


If you're familiar with tabletop product photography and video, you know what a pain it can 
be to shoot overhead shots while working on your subject. Tripods just get in the way. 

The usual remedy is a document camera, the modern equivalent of the overhead projector. 
These cameras let you display close-up shots with an LCD projector or external monitor, 
and they cost between $500 and $1 ,500. They're well suited to capturing images of 
document-sized objects, but come on, a grand for a glorified webcam? 

We've all got streaming video on our smartphones now, so couldn't we just use that instead? 
The problem is, how to hold it over the project without a tripod to bump into. 

Hollywood grips solve this problem with what is known as a gobo arm, a lightweight mount 
that lets you position your smartphone (webcam, etc.) down where the action is without 
getting in the way. Commercial units run $100-$150, not including the $30 clamp you attach 
it to. But for the price of one of those fancy clamps, you can piece together your own Mobile 
Document Camera Stand using easily sourced parts. 

It's easy. If you can make cuts with a hacksaw, you can build this project. There's also 
plenty of room for improvement. For example, I recently upgraded the lock washers to the 
"curved disc spring" type, and they work great. 

© Make Projects Page 2 of 5 

$30 Gobo Arm: Mobile Document Camera Stand 

Step 1 — Cut rod and tube, and assemble. 

• Cut two 1 IV2" lengths and one 1 3 /4 n length of threaded rod. Cut two 10" lengths of aluminum 
round tube. Clean up the ends with a file. 

• Insert the threaded rod into the aluminum round tube, and use hex nuts to hold in place. 
Optionally, you can use nylon spacers or 8" strips of electrical tape wound around the 
threaded rod toward each end to position the tube. You should have enough rod left at each 
end to fit into the terminal lug. 

Step 2 

• Attach a single terminal lug to one end of the first threaded rod, and tighten with a slotted 

• Attach terminal lugs to both ends of the second threaded rod, and tighten. Then thread the 
coupling nut onto the ^ 3 A" threaded rod. 

• Attach the remaining terminal lug to the end and tighten. 

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$30 Gobo Arm: Mobile Document Camera Stand 

Step 3 — Assemble the friction joints. 

• For the first friction joint, insert a nylon spacer onto the clamping knob shank. Insert the 
end of the terminal lug over the nylon spacer, keeping the locking screw facing away from 
the tip of the shank. Insert a lock washer over the terminal lug. 

• Now, insert the end of the terminal lug of the second threaded rod over the lock washer, 
keeping the locking screw facing toward the tip of the shank. Hold it together with a 1 /4 n -20 
wing nut. 

• Repeat for the second friction joint, to attach the ^ 3 A" threaded rod assembly to the other 
terminal lug of the second 1 1 V2" threaded rod assembly. 

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$30 Gobo Arm: Mobile Document Camera Stand 

Step 4 — Finish 

• Thread the beam clamp onto the remaining end of the first threaded rod assembly and 
attach it to the C-clamp. 

• Make sure a little extra of the threaded rod sticks through the bottom of the beam clamp. 
You'll want this overhang to wedge the C-clamp into so that the beam clamp aligns 

• Attach the generic smartphone tripod adapter to the 1 /4 n -20 end of the ^ 3 A" threaded rod 
assembly. Use the coupling nut to adjust for a snug fit. 

• Now you're ready to photograph your project for sharing at, or even 
stream live video from your workbench. 

This project first appeared in MAKE Volume 27 , page 126. 

This document was last generated on 201 2-1 0-31 09:35:26 PM. 

© Make Projects 

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